ii4 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
conjurers, but to demonstrate what great powers lie, little known and less understood, within us.
"It has sometimes happened that I have failed when about to give a demonstration, and I have always been frank enough to admit the fact. But, because of my long training and experience, such failure happens rarely/'
"Is it possible, Doctor, to perform an internal operation upon you while you are in the cataleptic corna without using anesthetic?" I enquired.
"My belief is that it is perfectly possible, but I have never tested the point. A doctor once suggested that my wounds with the daggers and hat-pins might only be superficial; he asked whether I could support an operation without pain. I answered that I thought so and was willing to submit to one, provided it was not a dangerous operation. As the doctor replied that the ]aw of the country forbade an operation not necessitated by illness or disease, and as I was neither ill nor diseased, we were unable to proceed further with the matter/*
We had covered the ground of his special experiences; now I wanted to touch on his general attitude towards these things. His independent views were so outstanding among fakirs of the Orient that I sought to elucidate them still further. He smiled when I mentioned the subject and did not let me finish my last sentence. Making a slight gesture of the hand, he rejoined:
"I would like to see them placed on a scientific basis, stripped of all the false suggestions and auto-suggestions, mostly religious or superstitious, with which they have generally been inextricably mixed. I have witnessed the harm done to the cause of truth thereby. I have broken away entirely from the traditions of the fakirs. Our science is one thing, religion is another; they ought to be kept separate. It is not that I do not believe in religion—far from it; I regard it with respect and as something necessary to the life of man, since it bestows moral power. But, as you have noted in India, the tendency of man to ascribe to God or to spirits or to angels what arises solely out of his own soul powers, his subconscious, is so strong that I feel a complete break-away is necessary if our teachings are to be purified from superstition and scientifically explained. Many